Ayan Aden

Biography

Ayan Aden, 20, is a poet and a spoken word artist based in Birmingham, United Kingdom. She is also a community activist and TEDx speaker who works with grassroots organisations.

Ayan is frequently invited to speak at community events. She sits as Co-Lead for Housing & Regeneration at the West Midlands Combined Youth Authority and is passionate about inclusive leadership and growth.

“Poetry has enabled me to reclaim my Somali identity,” Ayan said. “The issue of Somalinimo [Somaliness] is close to my heart as someone who grew up in the west and had to balance two identities.”

“My poetry style reflects that dual identity as I write in both Somali and English to connect deeper with my audience. It has given me the ability to connect with others through the medium of words, touching on issues we all face in the diaspora.”

She recited this poem at the 2019 Somali Week Festival in London.

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All poems by Ayan Aden

What does it mean to be Somali?

See, I can tell you how proud I am
Or how I thank God everyday
For the qosol, for the bants, for dadkeeyga
Inuu ilahay iga dhigey somali
Or I can tell you about that Bariis & Hilib and Moos
Or that three course meal
But I would rather tell you about the pride I feel seeing Ocean Stars
Or hearing
Somaliyeey toosoo…Toosoo isku tiirsadayeey..
What does it mean to be Somali?
See, I used to be asked what does it mean to be a Somali growing up in the west then I think I won’t have been able to answer that question best
Because I don’t think I am the same Somali as Maryam in Galmugud
Or Haweeya in Toghdeer
And I don’t think I relate to the struggles of Sakariya in Taleex
But I kinda understand Abdi from Minnesota
And I get Ayan Aden from Melbourne
See, ever since the day I was born
In the west
I had to deal with the concept of not fitting in
Not deemed British enough due to pigment of my melanin
Nor Somali enough for the Somalis back home because luuqaada ma garaneynin; Balancing two identities as Hooyo would tell me Naa hoy dhaqaankaaga yuuna kaa tagin.
What does it mean to be Somali?
Sometimes I think it’s absorbing the generational trauma of our parents
As they silently scream hope
And a longing for home
Screaming Somali mothers deserve the world and everything u daxeysa I am too well known
We are too familiar with the strength of our Somali mothers
To think of another
When we were all kids in school
Ma cid kale aya iskuulka kuu raaci laheyd
Oo adigoo macalimiinta ka gardaran dhihi lalheyd
Leave my child alone
A Somali mother makes a house a home
But sometimes being Somali is forgetting that behind our mothers is a broken home.
What does it mean to be Somali?
See, for me it means carrying around a heavy heart
A broken heart
For falling in love with a nation that I am still truly to see
A nation we became familiar with through the tales and screens
Being Somali is hoping one day to bask in the richness of my blue skies and Seas
Bathe in the richness of my ancestry
From sayyid to sultanate dynasty
And even though my tongue still bears English colonialism asking to be freed
Being Somali to me is stuttering and struggling yet trying to understand my forefathers’ poetry
But above all I end it with two meanings I strongly believe,
Being Somali to me
Is the simple concept of Somalinimo.
The helping hand is something no other people will understand.
The salaams to each other as we walk by
The clubhouse rooms we create to help each other with advice.
But lastly,
Being Somali to me
Is the understanding that empires fall and rise and our time to rise has come.

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